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Toni Morrison’s Struggle to Find an Identity

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Umass Boston

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  1. Introduction
  2. Morrison's life
    1. The begining of his life
    2. Living through the Civil Rights Movement
    3. Her attendance at Howard University and her realization of the reality of the life of Black's
    4. Her teaching career
  3. The novel Tar Baby
    1. The issue of self-hatred in her writings
    2. Black women: Victims in a society
    3. Negative views of mothers
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

In Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination Morrison rejects the theory that American literature reflects white male views. She argues that ?Africanism?, a term she uses ?for the denotative and connotative blackness that African peoples have come to signify? (Morrison, Playing, 6), has had a crucial presence in American literature throughout the years. Morrison writes, ?These speculations have led me to wonder whether the major and championed characteristics of our national literature ?individualism, masculinity, social engagement versus historical isolation; acute and ambiguous moral problematics; the thematics of innocence coupled with an obsession with death and hell ?are not in fact responses to a dark, abiding, signing Africanist presence.?(Morrison, Playing, 5)

[...] That's why I wrote The Bluest Eye, to find out how it felt? (Bigsby 28). Using writing and her imagination as a way to express herself, she made up characters to put herself in situations that she could not understand. When she attended Howard University, a prominent historically Black university, Morrison became more aware of the harsh lives of many Black Americans, which had been less noticeable in the North. When she joined a repertory company, the Howard University Players, with whom she made several tours of the South, it was then that she saw firsthand the life that her parents had escaped by moving to Ohio. [...]


[...] Her mother does not seem to care much about her. However, Claudia remembers that even though her mother was harsh, her mother cared very much for her. When Claudia was sick even though her mother did not seem to be caring, she spent the night making sure her daughter was fine. Claudia later recalls that when she thinks of autumn, she remembers her mother as ?somebody with hands who does not want [her] to die.? (Bluest Eye, 12) In Beloved, mothers are also depicted in various ways. [...]


[...] She is part of many different cultures. She is an African-American, a woman, and a mother. She comes from a strong Southern traditional background but grew up and was educated in a Eurocentric tradition. She has deep religious roots but her writing is lewd at the same time. She is very traditional but also contemporary. These contrasts are found in her writing as she struggles to find what it means to be black and a woman. Bibliography Bigsby, Christopher. ?Jazz Queen.? Independent [London] 26 [...]

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